PORTLAND, Ore. – Back in the win column following last weekend’s 2-0 triumph over FC Dallas, the New England Revolution makes its first-ever visit to JELD-WEN Field for a nationally-televised meeting with the expansion Portland Timbers on Friday, Sept. 16.
The Revs (5-11-12, 27 pts.) and Timbers (9-12-6, 33 pts.) will get underway at 11 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer, while the radio call will be available regionally on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs in search of first back-to-back wins; Timbers making postseason push
Shalrie Joseph and Rajko Lekic cemented their places atop the Revolution’s goal-scoring charts last Saturday night against FC Dallas as each scored once in a 2-0 win over the Hoops. The victory snapped a seven-game (0-2-5) winless run for the Revs while simultaneously extending their unbeaten streak to four games (1-0-3).
Perhaps most importantly, those three points kept the Revolution’s faint playoff hopes alive as the club now sits seven points back of the final postseason berth with six games remaining on the regular-season schedule. Maximum points will likely be necessary for the Revs to keep themselves in postseason contention, so they’ll approach each match accordingly, beginning with Friday night’s showdown with the Timbers.
“We just have to go out there with the attitude that we have nothing to lose and if we don’t start picking up points, the season’s going to be over come late October,” said Chris Tierney, who is expected to continue in his left midfield role against Portland. “We just have to go out there with the desperation I think we’ve been playing with lately. Hopefully we’ll get a slice of luck here and there, keep them out and get three points.”
Portland is also currently on the outside of the playoff picture, but the Timbers are knocking on the door following a three-game (2-0-1) unbeaten run which has lifted them to within one point of D.C. United for the final wildcard postseason spot. Keeping the expansion side in the mix has been Portland’s home form at JELD-WEN Field, where the Timbers have amassed eight of their nine wins this season.
Past Meetings: Inaugural meeting on April 2 at Gillette Stadium finished in a 1-1 stalemate
Rookie central midfielder Stephen McCarthy and veteran Jack Jewsbury traded first-half goals as the Revs and Timbers played to a 1-1 draw in their first-ever meeting on April 2 at Gillette Stadium. The result kept the Revolution unbeaten (5-0-4) in its first meeting with expansion teams since the start of the 2000 season.
New England’s first-ever visit to JELD-WEN Field presents a different type of obstacle, however, as the Revs are winless (0-7-2) in their last nine trips to the West Coast and haven’t picked up three points in the Pacific Time Zone since a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC back on Aug. 20, 2009.
Injury Report: Phelan returns as McCarthy’s ruled out for the season; Timbers banged up
Just one week after suffering a concussion in the late stages of the Revolution’s 4-4 draw with the Philadelphia Union – an injury which forced him to miss last weekend’s win over FC Dallas – Pat Phelan has returned to full training and joined the Revs on their trip to Portland.
Phelan was listed as questionable on Tuesday’s injury report, but the rugged central midfielder with a history of head injuries underwent a battery of tests and has been fully cleared by the team’s medical staff.
“When he [suffered the concussion], at the time, he wanted to go back in the game, but we weren’t going to do anything silly to risk him,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “It’s the same thing now. We’re not going to risk him if we think there is a risk, but all the doctors have told us that he’s passed all the tests and he’s good to go.”
Phelan’s timely recovery could prove particularly beneficial for the Revs, who learned earlier this week that McCarthy will miss the remainder of the 2011 season after undergoing a successful arthroscopic labrum repair on his left shoulder. The 23-year-old is expected to make a full recovery in three to four months and be ready for the start of the 2012 preseason.
Although not as long-term an absence, midfielder Sainey Nyassi will also miss Friday night’s meeting with Portland as he continues to recover from a sprained right knee.
Missing for Portland will be one familiar face in former Revolution goalkeeper Adin Brown (concussion), who will likely be joined on the sidelines by Kevin Goldthwaite (L knee ACL rupture), Eddie Johnson (concussion) and Spencer Thompson (R knee). Also listed as out on Tuesday was defender David Horst (L groin strain), although Timbers head coach John Spencer has said he’ll be a game-time decision after resting throughout the week.
Additionally, Timbers forward Jorge Perlaza’s participation is in doubt as the Colombian continues to battle illness. Perlaza is Portland’s second-leading scorer with six goals on the season.
Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis
While Joseph and Lekic provided the goals which lifted New England to victory over Dallas last weekend, veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis was huge at the other end of the field in keeping FCD off the board. Reis made eight saves – few of which were routine – en route to recording his fifth shutout of the season.
A similar performance could be required on Friday night at JELD-WEN Field, where the Timbers have scored 26 goals in 14 games this season for an average of 1.86 goals per game. Portland’s home goal-scoring total is only surpassed by Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake, both of which have scored 27 goals at home.
Final Thoughts: Raucous crowd at JELD-WEN Field to provide motivational backdrop
“We’ve been in atmospheres like that one before, like in Seattle and Toronto and other places around the league,” Tierney said of Portland, which regularly packs more than 18,000 fans into JELD-WEN Field. “I think that’s something that as pros, we look forward to playing in games like this where you know the home crowd’s going to be against you.”
“It’s going to be crazy and I look forward to it,” said Joseph. “It’s nothing new to us. We’re going to embrace the moment, enjoy being out there and try to get those three points that we desperately need.”